Dance Place: Brookland Artspace Lofts Studio

Remaining performances (tickets available here):

Friday, July 17 at 8:30 p.m.
Saturday, July 18 at 4:00 p.m.

They say: Someone is out to get him, but why? An old score…? A personal vendetta? A trail of clues, a deadline to beat, a couple of villains, before coming face to face with his greatest nemesis yet – Ian Fleming himself!

John’s take: You’d be hard-pressed to find a better subject for parody than James Bond. The twenty-three Bond films produced in the last half-century (not to mention all the other parodies that have already been done on the subject) have given Gavin Robertson, the writer-producer-star of BOND: An Unauthorised Parody, a wide array of material to draw on for his one-man show. Yet Robertson’s task is by no means an easy one; it requires clever physical and vocal skills, and the ability to keep all audience members, from Bond aficionados on down, engaged and laughing. Fortunately, Robertson is, as his subject might suggestively quip, up to the challenge.

Robertson is a veteran of this sort of performance, having performed similar “genre-based parodies” for the past couple of decades around the world, including on London’s West End. Therefore, the show, as directed by Nicholas Collett, is understandably far more polished than most of the other offerings at Fringe. Robertson and his team don’t leave themselves much room for error — you can count on one hand the number of props used in the hour-long production — but everything comes together seamlessly. The show’s many sound and light cues are synced to within an inch of their lives, and Robertson is a reliable, workmanlike performer, transitioning through the various characters he portrays with ease. He always knows exactly what to do to get the laugh, and he expends exactly the amount of energy necessary to get it.

As a Bond fan, I was pleased (but not surprised) that the performance demonstrates Robertson’s comprehensive understanding of the Bond oeuvre. He successfully embodies all the characters you’d expect him to — Bond, M, Q, Le Chiffre, the requisite Bond girl with an insane name (Honeydew Melons!) — exhibiting an easy command of the way these characters act and talk. His script is not only peppered with deep-cut references to a host of Bond films, but also with the kind of cheeky puns and double entendres that would make even a sixth grader roll his eyes (e.g., Bond, waiting to see M, is told by Miss Moneypenny to “go straight in;” hilarity ensues). The jokes are cheap, but you can rest assured that they all too accurately reflect the source material.

Robertson occasionally goes astray, particularly when it feels like he’s trying to keep those who might be less familiar with Bond involved. His choice of music often nods to other sources: a training “montage” is set to Survivor’s “Eye of the Tiger,” a chase scene to the Mission: Impossible theme, etc. Although superficially apt, these choices occasionally turn the show into a more generic action-movie spoof, diluting the show’s otherwise-sharp focus on Bond. And despite his excellent sense of physical comedy, Robertson occasionally goes off on wordless flights of fancy for a bit too long.

On the whole, however, BOND: An Unauthorised Parody achieves exactly what it sets out to achieve. It’s not aiming for highbrow drama here, and it’s content to deliver a consistently entertaining (if mindless) show. In that regard, it shares a lot in common with the best of the movies that have inspired it: while audiences might be left neither shaken nor stirred, they’ll definitely leave happy.

See it: You’ve faithfully kept up with the Bond series through the decades (even during the Timothy Dalton years).

Skip it: You hate cheeky puns.

Photo courtesy of Tasty Monster Productions